With pumpkin puree and maple syrup instead of refined white sugar, coconut oil swapped for butter, and gluten-free flour, this spiced cake is wonderful as a fall dessert or an afternoon snack with a cup of spiced tea.
Fall Baking: Pumpkin and Warm Spices
As weather cools and fall arrives, we naturally think of pumpkins and warm spices for favorite flavors. After developing an applesauce-honey cake for the cookbook, I kept going and created this pumpkin-maple cake to post for you.
Even though I’ve used maple syrup here as a natural sweetener, it’s still sugar to our bodies, and sugar consumption is something we need to monitor carefully for a healthy diet. Cakes like this are an occasional treat in our house, and half the time I end up sharing them with friends and neighbors.
Mix, Pour and Bake
You will need baking parchment to line the bottom of the 9″ square baking pan. Even though I use a non-stick pan, the parchment liner and spray assure that the cake releases easily from the pan after baking. Baking parchment is widely available. Look for it next to the foil and plastic wrap at the grocery store or at cooking stores.
Whisk your dry ingredients together and mix the liquid ingredients together in a food processor. If you don’t have a food processor, get a good arm workout by whisking until smooth in a medium bowl. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet, stir in nuts and zest, then pour into the pan to bake.
Flour: I used Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free flour blend to make this easy. I plan to try my own flour blends, like in my banana bread recipe, and will provide updates for those of you who are more adventurous in gluten-free baking.
Maple Syrup: Choose real maple syrup, not the fake artificially colored and flavored stuff that is really just corn syrup. I choose grade B for a richer maple flavor but grade A will work fine.
And so you don’t think I am crazy with my maple measurements, let me explain. I tested this cake recipe with 3/4 of a cup to 1 cup of maple syrup. The full 1 cup cake was super moist, even sticky after a day or two, but I just had to cut back on the sugar a bit. The 3/4 of a cup plus 1 tablespoon worked great. A small compromise.
Pumpkin: Be sure to choose canned pumpkin puree, not pumpkin pie mix, and go organic (of course).
Spices: Use pure cinnamon and clove, but blends works too. Try Chinese Five Spice, a blend of cinnamon, star anise, anise seed, ginger and clove. or a blend called Pumpkin Pie Spice. Another option, be adventurous and add in your own ground ginger, nutmeg or mace for more spice flavor.
Coconut Oil: Choose unrefined, organic coconut oil. I have been using Dr. Bronners. It’s available in mild (white label) or regular (brown label). Coconut oil is a healthy replacement in this recipe for butter. Coconut oil has saturated fat, yes, but it is a medium-chain fat that our bodies metabolize better than from animal sources.
Pecans: I buy already toasted and chopped pecans at Trader Joes. You can chop and toast your own if needed. Toast the nuts in the oven at 300° on a rimmed baking sheet until you can smell them, just a few minutes. They should be golden. Cool and use for the cake. Toasting brings out their flavor.
Pumpkin Maple Pecan Cake
- 2 1/2 cups (13 1/4 ounces or 375 grams) gluten-free flour blend (Bob’s Red Mill)
- 2 teaspoons baking powder (aluminum free)
- 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon ground clove
- 2 large eggs
- 1-15 ounce can (425 grams) pumpkin puree
- 3/4 cup + 1 tablespoon real maple syrup
- 1/2 cup unrefined coconut oil, melted
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 3/4 cup chopped toasted pecans
- Zest of 1 large orange (optional)
- Pre-heat oven to 325° (163 C). Gather all ingredients and a 9″ (23 cm) square metal non-stick baking pan. Spray the pan and line bottom with a square of parchment.
- Combine flour, baking powder, soda, cinnamon, salt and clove into a medium bowl and whisk to combine well. In the bowl of a food processor, add eggs, pumpkin, syrup, oil and vanilla. Pulse to combine until smooth. Alternatively, whisk wet ingredients together in a bowl by hand until smooth.
- Add wet ingredients into dry and stir until smooth. Stir in nuts and orange zest. Pour cake batter into baking pan and bake approximately 35-40 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean with a few moist crumbs.
- Cool cake in pan for 10 minutes. Remove cake by placing a wire cooling rack over the top and flipping cake over, holding on to the rack. It should come right out. Then carefully turn cake right side up. Enjoy warm or cool.
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